Another High Moder

Forrest ChristianCareers, Coaching, Uncategorized 16 Comments

I picked up another high-mode, underemployed potential client. My initial rough on our talk was Str 5 – 6. He gave me enough to go after 6 with his clever use of “and” between abstract concepts to name his plan. He’s 33. I just cannot fathom why Jaques believed that high-mode people are that hard to find. I can spit and hit a mode 8. No wonder I was undercoding interviews: everyone around me is 5 or above. My second string is 4H or 5L.

Right now I’m more or less pulling a net full of Str5 and Str6 30-somethings behind me. It’s odd to have so many high mode people easily accessible when they’re supposed to be so hard to find. And it’s more than a bit disconcerting to coach them into better work. Who am I to be telling a Str6 33-year old how to manage his career?

Perhaps America simply has an overload of high-mode GenXers. Jaques talks about periods of improbable gatherings of high-mode people that can enable a culture to move to a new level. Perhaps this large percentage of my network being high-mode represents such a time. Why they would be so underemployed, of course, is puzzling. All of them are. It’s like the corporations of America are littered with high-mode people in the lower ranks. And I can’t figure out why. Is it because the meritocracy that is developing, where the smart people on the whole really do make more money? Does it have something to do with the poor CEO choices that American boards have made over the past thirty years, as reflected in Mark Van Clieaf’s research? If CEOs are Str6 and below, even for very large firms, wouldn’t that mean almost no chance for advancement for someone who is Str5 at 29?

If you are 33, Str6 and driven by Fair Play, who will hire you? For all the high-mode thirty-somethings that I know, I know of no Str7 people inside America. They may exist, but I can’t say that I’ve ever met one. People I know abroad don’t count. The only hope I can see is that if Jaques has the wrong numbers at 30-40 years, then a larger number of Str7 Americans have to exist. However, if I’m right that it is a generational phenomenom, then these folks are all on their own. Which they have been all their life anyway, so it’s nothing new.

If I wanted to, I could probably take over a large part of the powerbase in the world with these men and women. Or at least pull a Cecil Rhodes and determine history for the next 100 years or so. I do need a hobby and that would provide me with endless entertainment. I have always wanted to leave a legacy that outlasted a millenium, which I suppose takes more work when you start at the front end. A thousand years seems like a long time until you think back and realise that many world conflicts today were already well entrenched by 1005 AD. Not many civilisations lasted 1,000 years of history so I had best look at something meta to that. Or subversive to that.

So here’s a question: what would you do with ten StrV and VI folks under thirty-five? Taking over the world is fair game but you have to explain it.

Comments 16

  1. Post

    Two lines of thought:
    1) If you’ve always wanted to change the world and you believe this passion is God given, then this isn’t strange, He is simply equipping you to take care of this. It also doesn’t mean Jaques was wrong. There may be a God-created concentration of high modes around you.

    2)I think the reason why we have so many underemployed young high potentials is because, in the interest of avoiding lawsuits, we have tried to make the hiring process “objective”. As I argued in my article, But I Really Like Her, although we often have candidates without experience or education who we know in our gut can perform a job, managers can’t hire them because they can’t check the box that says: 10-12 years experience in XYZ or has an advanced degree.

    Managers have to abdicate some of their hiring decisions to attorneys and HR managers whose job it is to AVOID RISK.

    So what chance does a 20-something have to land a job that, by the law of averages, should require 10-12 years experience? Of course, we who understand CIP know that they may hire a candidate who looks good on paper and has the 10-12 years experience who won’t be able to function in a higher level job.

    Say for example a great sales person who has been selling for 10 years. If he has the personality profile of a sales person and has been with the same company and had the same clients for 10 years, this person would probably “walk on water” as a sales person, but if he is lacking in Sales Manager CIP, likely Statum 3, he will fail at the Sales Manager job.

    The sad part is, when he fails, people will explain it away by saying he just doesn’t like management, he wants to be out selling. This may be partly true, but a big part will be explained by CIP.

  2. Post

    One’s mode can muddy the water of the CIP observation process too. A twenty year old’s stratum 3 argument will be different than a 40 year old’s stratum 3 argument which will be different than a sixty year old’s stratum 3 argument. Unfortunately, it will be different in a way that no one is capable of articulating at this point.

    I don’t want to create unsubstantiated rumors here; I don’t know what her success rate it is but…it’s been said that Kathryn Cason can not only observe CIP, but she can also intuit one’s mode from a transcript with no age attached to it.

  3. Post

    In response to the request for beginning readings, I would recommend: Art Kleiners article, Elliott Jaques Levels with You,, published in Booz Allen’s Strategy+Business. Jaques’ In Praise of Hierarchy from Harvard Business Review. Also, David Creelman did a seven article overview of Jaques’ stuff on a few years back. Creelman did a really nice job of saying things in simple language. Each article was only one page long. You can get at these by searching the archives. Creelman also interviewed Jaques, Kathryn Cason and Tom Helton about RO which you can also find by searching archives.

    Then, of course, I’m biased but there is PeopleFit’s website that has short readings on various RO key concepts written by yours truly.

    If you want an introductory training class, PeopleFit is holding a one day workshop in Raleigh, NC, April 8th. See

  4. Post

    I would begin by verifying that I in fact had ten SV and SVI candidates. I would seek verification to ensure that I was coding their CMP correctly. And, if I verified all of this I would then need to consider revisiting Jaques’ research that suggests that statistically this is highly improbable. From his research the percentage of the general population that would be classified where you have them is less than 1%. You may want to obtain a second opinion on some of your transcripts. I wonder whether the evaluation is undertaken impartially and objectively enough? You will need to be cognizant of the potential risks that you are setting forth to validate a preconceived view.

    If all this checks out you will want to find work that these individuals value and then set forth to provide relevant skills and knowledge so that they can realize their full potential capability and apply it.

  5. Post

    “So what chance does a 20-something have to land a job that, by the law of averages, should require 10-12 years experience? Of course, we who understand CIP know that they may hire a candidate who looks good on paper and has the 10-12 years experience who won’t be able to function in a higher level job. ”

    Rest assured the balance is shifting. We can take some solace in the fact that as the demographics shift there will be considerably more vacancies and opportunities for individuals of all ages and at all levels in organizations. We are nearing the finale of the boomers and the challenge will be matching the required numbers of individuals to the roles, and supporting the tax grants that will be provided to the social programs for the aging boomer population.

    As much as the problem may have been underemployment in the capitalist system in the past quarter century, it is apt to represent either full employment or overemployment over the course of the next 50 years. We will be drawn to the need for ever increasing levels of efficiency and productivity, and sponsorship of immigration and providing skilled knowledge to individuals from developing countries. Central to these needs will be the increasing emphasis on human resource functions and training and skills development. Consider the vast opportunities that will abound and the application of SST and RO during the next century. Individuals will not settle for compensation terms in their employment and will only be satisfied with the employer who sets forth to assist them in realizing their full potential capability.

  6. Post

    I expect you are really overcoding and projecting expectations for some of these individuals that are unjustified. In college I was surrounded by enthusiastic, glib individuals ready to argue intellectual ideas into the wee hours. They could link and weave ideas with a twinkle in the eye or with angry enthusiasm. These people were very, very smart. Many on to Harvard, Yale, etc.

    But were they Stratum V, VI, VII at age 20 or 21? No, they were clever, with high IQs, broad interests and strong convictions. They were using ideas as objects. They were fluent in them. They could master the content and compare and contrast them, but it was intellectual exercise. They did not possess and digest those ideas through deep experience. They had facility with these inanimate, intellectual constructs as if they were Legos on a table in front of them. Child’s play for them.

    I don’t think that is what is meant by high CIP. High CIP is non-verbal, or maybe pre-verbal. High CIP is the way your subconscious mind creates an interior landscape that you inhabit, where you know what lies beyond the next hill JUST BECAUSE YOU KNOW. You know how people will behave JUST BECAUSE YOU KNOW. Your language may give an artifact of these thought processes, but I think it is hard to distinguish between fluency in manipulating concepts, and true originality in how you inhabit the world and conceptualize your experience in useful ways.

    The whole subject always puts me in mind of those dot.bomb entrepeneurs describing the “market space” their product would inhabit. Great concept. How many were building with Legos, and how many had knowledge of the longings of the human heart that create the space? Most of the Legos broke apart. In the same line, I think it was low-moders who picked New Coke, but I expect they talked a great game too. They had theory, they had data, they were spectacularly wrong and I bet someone in the room had said so before it was too late. Clever.

    I think it is very possible that the whole coding process misses high moders who are inarticulate and exaggerates those who are. The real test is whether they are consistently right about the far future. And that requires years of experience feeding through CIP, to build the subconscious mental models that will guide decisions.

    Think how the idea of wisdom does not overlay neatly with brilliance or even insight. Brilliance is clarity of thought, insightfulness is nuance of thought, while wisdom is reserved, solid, no flash. Wisdom does not impress. That is, until the hearer has enough wisdom to hear it.

    An earlier post about one of your high moders talked of him being competent to run the world’s largest organizations in future. I think that is omitting far too much that is essential. If he doesn’t feed relevant experience into his CIP, if he isolates himself, he will build an elaborate fantasy world, or at least a world that is not about large organizations. It might be fun to inhabit, but his high CIP alone won’t make him competent to run any large organization.

    High CIP is necessary but not sufficient. I speak English and some French, but that doesn’t make me competent to be Prime Minister of Canada. And yet, the Prime Minister in fact has to be bilingual. Necessary, not sufficient.

    I think high CIP is rare and even where found does not mean the holder will have an impact on the world. It does not confer the magic “charisma” that it is tempting to link to it.

    I’ll close, but share a tidbit that caught my eye. I’m reading the diaries of Alan Clark, MP, who was a minor official in the early days of the Margaret Thatcher government. He was rich, well-educated, and made a mark writing military history in his 20’s. He played rich playboy even after getting into Parliament in his 40’s. In government in his early 50’s he was desperately trying to get noticed and get promoted. He had allies, he had detractors, he had a habit of putting his foot in his mouth with the press. Yet on his own IN HIS SPARE TIME he wrote a 20 year plan for the overhaul of the UK’s armed forces. That’s the output of a Stratum VIII thinker. He couldn’t help it; he could see the sweep of history in his mind’s eye. Just as I see the road home on this Friday afternoon in mine. . . .

  7. Post

    Jon’s arguments are compelling and I certainly would support the logic presented.

    From the last paragraph, we need to wonder how many individuals, like Alan Clark, are merely misplaced? Although a twenty year discretionary time span is closer to VI than VIII, it could be argued that the full realization of said plan might require fifty years to play out and assuming it did we might agree on VIII. The influence of Clark’s CMP would be clear assuming the potential contained within his plan was implemented and realized.

    There is a great deal of wisdom in the presentation of the logic Jon has provided, (and agreed this might simply be interpreted as a vane attempt at acknowledgement of my own wisdom) recognizing the assertion suggests that we will not be capable of distinguishing the logical and complex qualities presented in the determination unless we can distinguish the logic, and are possessed of the complexity, within ourselves.

    Now, having had some exposure to the process that sets forth to code the current potential capability of a candidate, there is an unsettling conundrum that has resided in a salient manner with me since. The obvious question is how does the interviewer distinguish a level of complexity in an argument that is beyond his or her own complexity of mental processing? If the interviewer processes employing abstract disjunctive logic how does he or she distinguish universal disjunctive logic? or, abstract conditional logic? Can the interpretation of the transcript be certain in judging the CMP and CPC of the candidate? I will assert it cannot. Even Dr. Jaques, himself, has been observed questioning whether we might be capable of distinguishing an indivdual with universal properties were we to encounter such an individual. He may have had an unfair advantage in judging CMP, considering his own complexity that undoubtedly ranged somewhere in the order of IX or X.

    We do not articulate in language, all that we process in thought while creating an argument. The cognitive structures we organize within the brain are not all fully voiced to demonstrate the full extent of the causal and effectual sequences that we are evaluating within our thought processes. The interviewer, on the other hand, will only be capable of engaging in argument to the threshold of his or her own complexity. As a result there may have been disjunctive assertions made that in their relationship with the full argument were significant and could have been expanded upon to establish a very intricate and complex bi-conditional argument.

    The complexity of the interviewer is as a result significant in attempting to judge the complexity of the candidate in a transcribed debate. In a practical application where the MoR judges the CPC of the SoR the process is sufficient insofar as it will provide a determination of the ability to advance the next one or two levels within the hierarchy. It is insufficent in distinguishing the individual who is overlooked in the organization because he or she is so underemployed that behaviours are judged to interfere with current potential capability. Considerable confusion occurs where CAC and CPC collide. Also within the practical application, and perhaps confirmation of the postulation above, rarely (I don’t believe I’ve observed it yet) will the MoR judge the CPC of the SoR, above his or her own CAC. They don’t however appear to take exception to projecting mode based on whatever their judgment is.

    Referencing some of our recent prime ministers, speaking english and some french, certainly might be sufficient to qualify for the job. As long as one can generate an insignia for a golf ball you’re in!

  8. Post

    Jon, these guys really do code according to Jaques and Cason’s CIP method at these Stratum. “Clydesdale” is the only one who has not been coded. Pv was part of my original set. I miscoded him too low. I felt that he fit a stratum 4 – low stratum 5 but I couldn’t understand how to see Str4 and I didn’t see Str5. I did see Str3. I went back, looked again after coding a real Str3 interview, which he seemed bigger than. He showed some minor evidence of Str5 according to Michelle, who looked over a problem passage for me. I hadn’t thought that. I did see lots of tiebacks. He’s pretty funny and verbal. Of course, that may only be in comparison to other people in IT, but he amuses me a lot. On CIP, I’m not going on what I heard buy what I saw on the paper. The evidence is very strong for Str4M-H.

    With Rk, we all saw Str5 easy. He’s the oldest at 43. With Br (40), we also all saw Str5, with some of the others saying evidence of 6. Rk was given Str5M and Br was Str5M-H. Rk is a speaks professionally. Br is a corporate staffer.

    Ra coded as what I think is Str3L-M. I saw no evidence of Str4: no tiebacks, no re-referencing. He is also a coder.

    Ty was a different case. Ty was an informal, spur of the moment interview. He gave me tiebacks all over the place. He did the “what I mean by that” to explain a concept. He had a complex plan about how to solve current problem (which he initially called “debt”) at Ratheon, from the position of a Section Head, whatever that meant. It seemed to be a mutli-site manager for that large company. When I asked him if he could summarize his plan in a sentence, he gave me “Tolerance. [Pause] And integrity. Oh wait: that’s not a sentence is it?” He is an engineer and D&D-style gamer. We play Star Wars: Battlefront together on his PS2. He is known as a somewhat boring person, more than a little bit odd. He is not interesting to speak to for most people and he often looks distracted. He’s an engineer: they’re like that a lot, in my experience. I do not feel comfortable giving him Str6 without more exploration because he is so young. I cannot give a third of a stratum, either. But I can confidently say that he showed Str5. He has done what appears to be Str4 work from his descriptions.

    The Clydesdale is more problematic because I have not officially coded him. But he is at the top of his class and has been invited to join a very successful personal injury firm, with the expectation of becoming partner within three to five years. Or less. He keeps turning them down and they keep sweetening the deal. You would better know what this means. While in Thailand working as basically legal aid, he went up against the attorneys for the sex traders. These people make a great deal of money and hire some very good legal talent. From all accounts, he handled the work well: he’s been asked to return to join the staff.

    Ct, who is nine and quite not ready to be CIP interviewed, has wowed people for sometime. She is quite fascinating but not all that charming. Talking with her is like talking with an extremely intelligent 12 year-old. As an ex-youth leader for junior high, I have spoken to many, many 12 year-olds and can compare comfortably. I have no idea where she is but my gut tells me I have seen something incredible.

    The list continues on the coding. I continue to get high-mode people. I really would prefer not to. I am not overestimating in the way that you think I am. I, too, remember those people at university. I came from a township school district that almost went bankrupt. We had half-days for one year. My senior government class had 42 students and 35 chairs. I had only one class with less than 30 students. My senior term paper for college prep english could be no longer than 5 pages, and she preferred 4. I did not learn the classics. When I got to college, I was wowed by some of these people, too. It took me about a month to discover that they were morons and I proceeded to use their definitions of morality to prove that not only were the Nazis justified in genocide, they had a moral imperative. It shows the depth of their abilities that I not only got away with that but no one called me on using “moral imperative” that way. I wasn’t all that impressed with those people then and I’m not now.

    I certainly can be. I can be won over by the beautiful people and charmed just like everyone else. But this is not about the charm. This is about whether or not X is there. If it is, then I say that State A which is evidenced by X is supported. If not, I admit the reverse. I overestimate people all the time. I have shown a remarkable tendency to underestimate interviews, when compared with Michelle and Glenn. Maybe it’s the years of editing technical prose, which forces several styles on you whether you like them or not.

    I also used to believe that this was not real, that it could be faked. I am not so certain that it can. The idea of the Universal is still problematic, but I’m beginning to get the idea. If you measure people by stacking them, Visky is the biggest man I have ever met, even at 47. I have been friends with traders who make or lose millions a year, retiring college professors of note, and many whizband folks. (My college roommate qualifies: he graduated third, clerked with a federal judge, edited Havard law review and partnered at Baker Botts early. My other roommate and I do not.) He outclasses them. He has shown a remarkable body of work that has a great deal of respect in Romania and Hungary. He helped start an art gallery that has exploded on the international scene because of the quality of its works. He’s big: my very successful business people find him puzzling and interesting, even though they have to put up with a dramaturg who majored in physics with a very thick Hungarian accent. I did not consider him to be anything Universal. However, I happen to have several interviews that he did when visiting the States last year. They code easily Str7. My wonder is whether or not he shows Universals. I am not sure, but I suspect, especially when comparing his interviews (typed) to the Str7 interviews that I have read before. He’s bigger.

    It’s weird. And yes, I know that running an organization requires more than simply high complexity: there are several facets of personality that come into play. It’s shorthand. But you are certainly not going to get qualified people below the stratum, and maybe you can get someone who would rather be doing something else to do a decent job by reframing the work to fit their values.

    I used to think that intensely verbal people would do better. There is some evidence in the literature about IQ that verbal abilities play a very strong role. The recent evolutionary psychology work on the role of emotions and language and intelligence is also interesting in this. But after looking at this with some people who are known as “Don’t let him get in front of the client” people, I can say that higher stratum thinking is evidenced in their interviews, even though they do not have a neat way of speaking. They aren’t smooth. One stutters very badly and can get self-conscious. I’m not going to bet my life (alright, so I already am) that it’s right but there seems to be a good deal of support.

    Remember that Jaques and Cason’s point in Human Capability was that people who were classified as fitting particular roles could also be classified to that stratum by graduate students coding transciptions of the interviews. The thousand things that we use to control presentation of self orally and visually were not available.

    I know that I shouldn’t be finding these people. I know that no one else does. I don’t for a minute imagine that anyone else has this problem. I know that from what I’ve read, everyone else has never seen this type of bulge. And the problem may be my reluctance to give out anything higher than Str5. I have an interview of a “Policy Wonk” right now that I am very resistant to finishing because I agree that there is strong evidence of 7 and he’s in his forties.

    And remember that none of these numbers are unheard of. Glenn tells the story of a Str6 33 year old (or at least early thirties; I may have the exact age wrong.)

  9. Post

    There is no question that these high potential, high mode individuals exist. It obviously only appears statistically improbable that there would be a cluster as large as the one you have. Michelle has captivated my interest with the assertion that Kathryn Cason can predict mode based on the transcription without furnishing the individual’s age.

    I hope that’s my policy wonk you’re onto now. I sure would appreciate hearing where you code him. In fact I might be a little concerned at the moment that you don’t under rate him recognizing all the hassle we’ve been offering you. I really should attempt to have myself enrolled in the Peoplefit course so that I have a better platform to evaluate from.

  10. Post


    I’ve been wanting to ask you, manasclerk, whether you’ve ever looked into the parallels between the time spans/stratums Jaques outlines, and the levels of ‘action logics’ Prof Bill Torbert has found in his research, which also involve time horizons.

    Torbert’s ‘Leadership Development Framework’ (which draws on Jane Loevinger’s ego development model) has 7 or 8 levels. It uses a Sentence Completion Test, rather than interview to gauge an individual’s complexity level.

    Moving in the direction of increasing complexity it has levels running from Impulsive to Opportunist to Diplomat to Expert/Technician to Achiever to Individualist to Strategist – and then a few very rare ones.

    Time horizons are 6 months – 1 year for for Expert/Technicians, for example, and 1 – 3 years for Achiever.

    Reading your blog a while back I was struck by some of your comments about people being ‘in over their heads’, or even in under their heads in their job roles.

    You might enjoy Prof Robert Kegan’s influential book “In Over Our Heads” too – which is on this topic. He has a form of interview he uses to assess cognitive complexity called the Subject-Object Interview. I wonder if its like the interviews you do?

    I’d love to get hold of The Requisite Organisation or Human Capability – but Amazon doesn’t seem to offer them. Are they available from any publisher directly, do you know? Especially TRO, which I presume is more general (ie better for Jaques beginners like me).



    PS Sorry this post doesn’t respond to your entry above – I couldn’t find any e-mail where I could contact you.
    Maybe you’ve already answered these qs. too….?

  11. Post

    I haven’t read Torbet that I know of, and I’ve not yet gotten around to that Kegan book, although I’ve read some of his earlier articles. Time to get around to that.

    Jaques makes the point that you can’t grow yourself to the next level. It occurs according to certain pathways that seem to be fixed by the time you’re 25 or so, and possibly simply innate. That differs from most theories of ego development, which always seemed to have a value angle to me. But Mark Van Clieaf has had some good success putting a theory of ego development from someone or other (I forget who) into the mix with RO.

    The best book to start off with is Julian Fairfield’s “Levels of Excellence: A Management Novel” which unfortunately is only available from Australia. The link is to Dymocks who may have a copy left. I got mine from Glenn Mehltretter of PeopleFit.

    I don’t recommend most of the works by Jaques right off because they are so thick. He really was a fairly poor writer in some respects but possibly that simply reflects his psychoanalytical training. Human Capability is a psych monograph and reads like one, although if you don’t mind it it’s worthwhile.

    Can someone recommend a better book? It depends on what you want to know, really. RO is fairly broad. A lot of people come to it by way of David Billis of the London school, who does non-profit stuff. Gillian Stamp (also of London but forget the college) has some stuff available online. They both studied under Jaques.

    Cason has stuff available at but a lot of it is simply photocopies.

    I recommend starting with the chapter from Jerry Harvey’s How Come Everytime I Get Stabbed In the Back My Fingerprints Are On The Knife? as a great introduction to Jaques’s work.

    Anyone have a thought about the later books that Jaques wrote? I started off with a used copy of Executive Leadership, which is good but it took awhile. They really could have benefitted from a stronger editor. But it’s more geared to military leadership, with a nod to manufacuturing corporate managers.

    The cool thing about Jaques’s work is that he actually did real research tied to people doing real work. This wasn’t done in the lab but on the shop floor. I admire that.

    If you register at you can download some of Mark Van Clieaf’s papers. He has some great stuff that builds off of Billis’s work (and therefore Jaques’s) with ego development designed in. He’s getting some traction with the idea of work levels and CEO compensation.

    Another thing to check out is Stan Smith’s new blog on Sustainable Organizations, Stan has been putting RO together with Learning Organizaitons to create a very interesting concept. Highly recommended.

    I really should write an introductionto the ideas of Jaques one of these days.

  12. Post

    Manasclerk: you certainly have done the homework to be right in your coding. As I read back, I am putting forward two points, one about coding risk and one about capability to successfully lead large organizations. You may have disposed of the first on March 19, but let me comment on those, and then offer a third about taking over the world.

    As for coding, I certainly am more comfortable with the probabilities that you are meeting high-moders, knowing the ages as 30’s and 40’s. My impression from earlier postings was that you were coding several mid to late 20-somethings at Strata IV, V and VI.

    Jaques suspected more than 1 in 200 adults were at Stratum V and above, and I have no doubt that you draw a higher number close to you with your wide interests and activities. As I do the math, that means a random community of 100,000 adults will have over 500 in high strata–but that is a distribution across ages 21-70, so very few in the 20’s.

    My coding point was that very smart I’s, II’s and III’s can toss around ideas disjunctively, conjunctively, and sequentially. Those ideas are borrowed, not owned, but can be used deftly and with discipline. There’s nothing wrong with that. If I need one, give me a Stratum III neurosurgeon over a Stratum VII any day! I want the obsession with detail and method and follow-through, with a mastery of the content of current literature to inform decisions. I will want a great physician, not a great metaphysician. Yet both will use the same vocabulary, and that is where the risk in coding lies. I thought you might be prey to that risk with smart 20-somethings.

    On the other hand, I confess I have not interviewed high-moders, worked to drill down beneath their ideas, and coded their interviews. I have only done a handful in lower strata.

    My other point about large organizations is to urge caution in labeling people as underutilized, or destined for greatness, solely because of their CIP. CIP is only a starting point for individuals and managers to understand potential in organizational contexts. It is no guarantee of success.

    It may have been inadvertent, but in acknowledging more is needed to run a large organization than high CIP, you say several “facets of personality” come into play. It’s more than personality. High CIP without knowledge (of an industry, a culture, a field) means ignorance of fundamentals needed for success, which CIP may mitigate but not cure. I think that CIP is used to build mental models of the world, and that experience is what shapes the models. GIGO applies. If my model is faulty or incomplete, I’ll make wrong decisions. And guess what? All of us mortals suffer from faulty and incomplete models.

    Having high CIP, even with appropriate experience, etc, etc, only means a leader is capable of coordinating the actions of a large organization over time. It is no guarantee that the objectives or methods chosen for the organization will prove to be the right ones to avoid catastrophe or to achieve anything. High CIP is not infallibility, it is just a useful ability over time.

    The new point: The March 15 subject of “what do we do with the high-moders?” is a great one. I find it provocative and sensible. But your speculation on being able to shape the world for the next century with a group of young high-moders is way over the top. These people don’t possess answers to the world’s problems, and other people don’t fall naturally in line behind them. I think the temptation to extend RO into a realm of “natural” moral leadership is a trap to be avoided at all costs. High moders have a talent for organization that can be employed best in relation to many other players cast in particular roles. They can be quite good at proposing or evaluating alternate courses of action, and seeing others through the rough patches. They have an unforced interest in and appreciation of the likely future.

    Yours of March 15 closes with a question: what would your readers do with ten Vs and VIs under thirty-five? I don’t know. I’m not sure the question is unlike, What would you do with a 100-watt bulb and an extension cord? Well, I’d plug it in and shed some light on . . . on what?

    The real question is, What do you value, and how could this group help get more of it? Peace on Earth, healthy children, oodles of money, whatever.

    But the group can’t deliver on these alone. Tell me, what do they know? What kind of experience do they bring? Do they have a large cadre of IVs, IIIs, IIs and Is to do the work, or are we going to just sit around and talk? Who will build and test the systems they build in their minds, and adjust them and learn as they inevitably fail? In other words, the group in isolation doesn’t mean anything at all.

    Oh, and did I mention? The group won’t cooperate to work on MY goals unless I can offer Stratum VII guidance in return. Otherwise, they’re outta here.

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    For anyone wishing to wade in I would recommend “Social Power & the CEO”. “Levels of Excellence” is alright. Julian does a good job explaining the general principles.

    Manasclerk, if you email me your address I’ll post you a copy of my recent book, in exchange for your critique.

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    Great to hear about Fairfield, Van Clieaf et al. I’ll check some of this out. Business novels have always sounded a wee bit dubious to me though…. (Maybe I should actually read one!)

    I notice Van Clieaf refers to long-term US Army leadership research about growing conceptual capability at each level as number one predictor of executive success.
    Some other bit of the US Army has also recently been doing longitudinal studies using Prof Kegan’s cognitive complexity interviews to identify what is really changing in people during army leadership training.

    There’s a short article by Kegan here about how more than half of us are in over our heads in relation to the competencies demanded in 21st century professions. It was work done for the OECD, and fed into a recent report on key competenecies.

    This article by Prof Bill Torbert and David Rooke seems to overlap with lots of the Jaques work you talk about (I think – I’m no expert?)

    Organizational Transformation as a Function of CEOs’ Developmental Stage

    [Abstract: In this paper, we discuss what appears to be one critical variable in successful organizational transformation toward becoming a learning organization: the ego development stage of the CEO and his or her senior advisers. In 10 longitudinal organizational development efforts, the 5 CEOs measuring at the late Strategist stage of development supported 15 progressive organizational transformations. By contrast, the 5 CEOs measuring at pre-Strategist stages of development supported a total of 0 progressive organizational transformations. The progressively transforming organizations became industry leaders on a number of business indeces. The 3 organizations that did not progress developmentally lost personnel, industry standing, and money as well. ]

    If you find Torbert interesting, you’ll want to read this:
    It includes research data on the proportions of managers and consultants at different complexity levels.

    Bill Torbert’s new book “Action Inquiry – the secret of timely and transforming leadership” is great, if this material interests you.
    Torbert makes some interesting points about how only CEOs at some of the rarest high levels of complexity are actually able to create “learning organisations”.

    Which explains a lot!

    I figures all these approaches – Jaques, Torbert, Kegan etc – are trying in their different ways to get beyond what Ken Wilber calls a ‘flatland’ approach, by reintroducing verticality in various forms. Which is never going to be very easy, in our rather egalitarian/PC age…

    Matthew Kalman

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    Action Inquiry? I’ve read about this before but it was in passing, maybe a “as I wrote elsewhere”. But it feels rather recent. Man, I hate forgetting where I saw something! Thanks for the links. Now let us go forth and read and discuss!

    Also, I should recommend the Jaques article collected in one of the Havard Business Review books. I think it’s the one on leadership. The article is “In Praise of Hierarchy” if memory serves, which it often doesn’t.

    I really need to pick up the Kegan book. You’re the umpteenth who has recommended it to me. So much to read, so little money…

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